Favorites Friday: Movies from Books

In certain circles, movie adaptations of beloved books are a highly controversial subject!  My expectations are usually low for movie versions of books, because I’ve been disappointed too many times.  But…sometimes the movies do justice to their books–or, dare I say it, even do better!

I visited this topic once before, but I must have been watching (and reading) some good things in the last few years, because I find myself with a few more to add to my own list of great movie adaptations.  In no particular order, and with links to reviews…

sherlock1BBC’s Sherlock

Well, no particular order except for this one!  Something amazing happens here because it’s a huge departure from Doyle’s original Sherlock Holmes (like being in a different century) and yet it’s so true to the original too.  I think the key is that the window-dressing (gas lamps and horse-drawn carriages) has changed, but the characters still feel the same…just told through modern story-telling.  Besides, I went on a Sherlock Holmes Walking Tour in London, and the guide pointed out that at the time of writing, Holmes was set in the present-day–and it was actually several decades before retellers stopped modernizing, and started placing him in his original decade.

Catching FireThe Hunger Games: Catching Fire

I liked the first movie in this trilogy too, but it was the second that really impressed me.  With some very careful character tweaks, the movie stayed true to the book but made me like Katniss so much better.  What had felt like a girl flailing helplessly became a girl trying her best, and that’s a character I can enjoy much more.

Return of the KingThe Lord of the Rings

I made a conscious decision when I finally read the books to rewatch the movies at the same time (each movie just before the book, in fact).  I enjoyed every book and movie, but I have to give the edge to the movies.  Sorry, Tolkien.  Actually, he might not mind–the movies brought the characters to life for me much more, but since Tolkien’s focus seems to have been on the lore and the history anyway, he might not see that as an issue.

Northanger AbbeyNorthanger Abbey (Masterpiece Theatre)

This is my favorite Austen novel, and the movie is delightfully frothy and fun.  Colin Firth makes us wait six hours for a smile, but Mr. Tilney grins throughout this whole movie.  It also features the wonderful Carey Mulligan as Isabella Thorpe, not to mention one of moviedom’s most adorable first kisses.

Princess BridePrincess Bride

I’m not sure I can think of any other book/movie combination where they feel so completely like they’re exactly the same thing.  It may help that William Goldman wrote the book and the screenplay.  There are some extra details in the book–but the movie has the adorable frame story–and really, everything that’s most important is in both!

Stardust

Neil Gaiman was being complex and innovative and subverting expectations with some aspects of this story.  The movie decided to be funny and romantic and, yes, more traditional in its pay-offs.  I respect Gaiman, but the movie makes me feel all warm and fuzzy and happy!

Your turn!  What movies do justice to their books?

About cherylmahoney

I'm a book review blogger and Fantasy writer. I have published three novels, The Wanderers; The Storyteller and Her Sisters; and The People the Fairies Forget. All can be found on Amazon as an ebook and paperback. In my day job, I'm the Marketing Specialist for Yolo Hospice. Find me on Twitter (@MarvelousTales) and GoodReads (MarvelousTales).
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3 Responses to Favorites Friday: Movies from Books

  1. Some lovely choices! I echo “The Princess Bride”. It was years before I read the book, though I’d known the movie for a while at that point. I still prefer the movie, but I think that’s at least partially because it was the first one I saw. It really does feel like it’s exactly the same thing.

    There’s “The Last Unicorn” for me, of course. It’s not quite as similar in feel to the book, but it’s stil very close. Again, that’s a movie where the author of the book is also the person who wrote the screenplay.

    And, of course, the very classic “Wizard of Oz”. ^_~ Again, like with all of these actually, I grew up with the film before I ever read the book. “The Lord of the Rings” is a good example of where it happened the other way around. I’m much more likely to gripe about changes if I’ve read the book first, I’ve learned, but I suppose that’s to be expected. If I see the film adaptation first, there are no expectations whatsoever.

    Hope you’re having a lovely weekend!

  2. dianem57 says:

    Gone With the Wind comes to mind – so difficult to distill such a long, complex book into a movie version, but it was done superbly. And the casting of the characters was spot-on, too. It was a huge project for the producer, David O. Selznick, but he managed to pull it off.

  3. Great choices Cheryl. I’ve seen them all but Northanger Abbey and enjoyed them. For Austen adaptations I love the 1995 Sense and Sensibility 🙂

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